Upside-Down Greens Offer Big Challenge

By Associated PressJune 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Few players can butcher a hole quite like John Daly. But his performance in the final round of the 1999 U.S. Open was spectacular, even by his standards.
The last time the Open was played at Pinehurst, the enigmatic two-time major winner made an 11 on the par-4, 485-yard eighth hole on the famed No. 2 course'yet that was only part of the story. How he totaled that score earned him a place in tournament lore.
Daly already was well behind the leaders when he launched a 340-yard drive down the fairway at No. 8, then pulled his second shot left of the green. He was left with a delicate shot up a large swale, much like dozens of others he and the rest of the competitors played all week.
He twice tried to putt the ball close to the flag, only to have it stop short and roll back toward his feet. Finally, with the ball still rolling after his fourth shot, Daly swiped at it and sent it flying over the green, incurring a two-shot penalty.
When he finished a round of 83 that left him in last place, he vowed never to return to the U.S. Open.
Its not worth it. This is my last U.S. Open'ever, Daly said. Ive had it with the USGA and the way they run their tournaments. The USGA loves to embarrass guys who play in their tournaments.
Well, hes back for another try at Pinehursts undulating greens and generous run-off areas. Daly finished 21st on the PGA Tour money list last season to give him a full exemption to the U.S. Open, and the conditions he and the other 155 players will face should be eerily similar to five years ago.
They return with a new way to describe No. 2s greens: upside down.
Pinehurst is unlike any other golf course we play, Tiger Woods said. I mean, its upside-down bowls really, or turtle backs, however you want to look at it.
At least theyre consistent. Each presents the same challenge, with only the most perfectly struck approach shot good enough to hold the green. When it doesnt, the ball will end up on the shaved grass surrounding the putting surface, leaving many options.
Daly tried using his putter, and while that didnt work so well for him, its probably the easiest, safest way to play the course. Other options include some type of wedge, a mid-iron or even a fairway metal.
Around there, every shot is a different deal, Scott Verplank said. You can try about any shot you want. Some of them will work, some of them wont.
Phil Mickelson came to Pinehurst nearly two weeks before the Open to work through those shots with short-game guru Dave Pelz. They spent nearly three full days around the course'Mickelson also practiced with teacher Rick Smith'and Pelz again was struck by the unique design by Donald Ross.
Look for Mickelson to be one of the few players who sticks with his wedge. Growing up, whenever he worked on his chipping, he only used his sand wedge, and he became so proficient that he sees no reason to change.
Given the results, that isnt surprising. Mickelson gets so much spin on the ball from around the green that hes had the grooves of his club checked.
I wouldnt bring four or five clubs out there and chip with an 8-iron and chip with a 9-iron, so Id bring my one club, and I would hit a variety of different shots, Mickelson said. Id hit a lob shot over the bunker or hit a low bump-and-run by scooting it back, so I hit all the shots around the green with the same club.
Daly certainly had his problems with the course setup, but most players raved about the first Open held at Pinehurst. The USGA obviously agreed and decided to return only six years later'the first time its happened that quickly at any course since 1946.

While the greens were difficult, the rest of the course was relatively benign five years ago, with rough low enough to allow aggressive play and wider-than-normal fairways.
Some of that has changed for 2005. The fairways are a bit narrower and some holes have been lengthened, but no one doubts where the tournament will be won and lost.
I absolutely love Pinehurst, its the short-game paradise, Pelz said. I love to see the iron shots come onto the green and dribble off. And you see the guys think, Now what do I do?
Its a great test, and itll come down to who scrambles the best.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: